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Footsore in Mid Manhattan

Exploring Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, Central Park and a lot more besides in Midtown New York

sunny 28 °C
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Excluding a brief visit a few days previously to watch an exhibition soccer game at the Yankee Stadium, I had never visited New York despite it being one of those world cities like London and Paris that everyone who likes travelling feels they have to visit. With so much to see the plan was to cover New York in two stages doing Mid Manhattan first including the Empire State Building, Time Square and Central Park and then to come back another day to cover Lower Manhattan and see Wall Street and the 9/11 Memorial.

And so it was one Wednesday morning having got the train in from Summit New Jersey we emerged from the depths of New York Penn Railway Station underneath Madison Square Garden, perhaps not the prettiest station (that accolade probably belongs to the Grand Central Terminal we saw a bit later) but certainly the busiest train station in North America by some margin. Because we had a lot to see we had taken the precaution of booking express passes for the Empire State Building and went there first but disappointingly the top was shrouded in cloud and decided to leave it until later in the day hoping the skies would clear.

Madison Square Garden built on top of New York's Penn Station

Madison Square Garden built on top of New York's Penn Station


The top of the Empire State Building shrouded in cloud as we arrive in New York, not looking good <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

The top of the Empire State Building shrouded in cloud as we arrive in New York, not looking good :(


Me by the wall mural in the lobby of the Empire State Building

Me by the wall mural in the lobby of the Empire State Building

We then walked up New York's 7th Avenue (in New York avenues run north/south while streets, which tend to be smaller blocks, run east/west) towards Times Square, passing Macy's flagship store on 34th Street's Herald Square on the way. Macy's still advertises itself as "the largest store in the world" (although it was finally overtaken by a store in South Korea in 2009), an accolade a competitor tried to prevent it from earning when it was originally built back in 1902 by holding onto a corner of the block; Macy's just ignored this tactic and built around it and today the building (now occupied by "Sunglass Hut") carries Macy's "shopping bag" sign by lease arrangement.

Macy's flagship store on 34th Street

Macy's flagship store on 34th Street

Times Square at the junction of 7th Avenue and Broadway is the hub of New York's Theatre District, with bright lights and bustle everywhere you look. On the south side high above the billboard signs on the original New York Times Building is the famous New Year's Eve Ball which rises up its pole and drops at midnight each New Years' Eve when as many as a million reveller's pack the square. The northern triangle of the square is technically called Duffy's Square and contains statues to Chaplin Francis P. Duffy (1871-1932) of the Fighting 69th" (a famous New York Irish regiment in the US Army) and also George M. Cohan (1878-1942), an American playwright and song writer whose songs included "Over There", "Give my regards to Broadway" and "the Yankee Doodle Boy".

The south side of Times Square, you can just make out the New Years Eve Ball rising on the Flag Pole of the building opposite - only 7 months to go until it drops!

The south side of Times Square, you can just make out the New Years Eve Ball rising on the Flag Pole of the building opposite - only 7 months to go until it drops!


Looking down on 7th Avenue at Times Square, full of signature yellow NY cabs watched over by an unusual looking elevated police lookout post

Looking down on 7th Avenue at Times Square, full of signature yellow NY cabs watched over by an unusual looking elevated police lookout post


George Cohan's Statue and the north end of Times Square

George Cohan's Statue and the north end of Times Square


Father Duffy's Statue on the north side of Times Square (also known as Duffy's Square)

Father Duffy's Statue on the north side of Times Square (also known as Duffy's Square)

However a bit fun at the northern end of Times Square is the raised platform behind Father Duffy's Statue in front of the Hyundai Billboard. Here tourists are encouraged to stand and their faces are incorporated into the billboard sign displayed above them! Of course I had to have a go and managed to get my face into one of three cut-outs - my face in lights in Times Square (although I wasn't too sure about the skirt worn by my billboard incarnation)!

The interactive Hyundai Billboard on the north end of Times Square - I'm on the left

The interactive Hyundai Billboard on the north end of Times Square - I'm on the left


Me in lights 'Gangnam Style' on the interactive Hyundai Billboard in Times Square - although I'm not too sure about the skirt!

Me in lights 'Gangnam Style' on the interactive Hyundai Billboard in Times Square - although I'm not too sure about the skirt!

Having vowed to come back when it was dark to see the Times Square lights in all their splendour we made our way to New York's Grand Central Terminal. Completely rebuilt between 1903 and 1913, the station has been described as "the world's loveliest station" and is the largest in the world by number of platforms (44 platforms on two levels). The information booth in the main concourse is a perennial meeting place and the four faced clock above it an icon, even if isn't made of opal and worth $20 million as suggested by urban legend.

New York's Grand Central Terminal and Park Avenue Viaduct

New York's Grand Central Terminal and Park Avenue Viaduct


The Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal

The Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal


The four faced clock above the information booth in the Main Concourse of the Grand Central Terminal

The four faced clock above the information booth in the Main Concourse of the Grand Central Terminal

Outside traffic on Park Avenue (which on the map appears to go straight through the station) is taken up a ramp onto the ornate Park Avenue Viaduct that wraps itself around the first floor of the Railway Station, northbound to the east and southbound to the west, before coming back down again to ground level on the opposite side.

Inside a New York Taxi driving along the Park Avenue Viaduct as it wraps itself around the 1st floor of the Grand Central Terminal

Inside a New York Taxi driving along the Park Avenue Viaduct as it wraps itself around the 1st floor of the Grand Central Terminal


The New York Public Library (guarded by the stone lions  'Patience' and 'Fortitude' ) on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street

The New York Public Library (guarded by the stone lions 'Patience' and 'Fortitude' ) on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street

There's a lot to see in New York, more than I could ever hope to mention; next up was the Roman Catholic St. Patricks Cathedral built between 1858-1878 on 5th Avenue. Unfortunately it was yet another building on my trip shrouded in scaffolding as it is currently undergoing a 5 year $175 million renovation started in 2012. We did briefly pop in to have a look around and I was amused by "in the city that never sleeps everyone needs a place to pray" posters outside but the renovation work really made it impossible to properly look around.

St. Patrick's Cathedral covered in scaffolding while its being renovated

St. Patrick's Cathedral covered in scaffolding while its being renovated


The nave inside St. Patrick's Cathedral

The nave inside St. Patrick's Cathedral


'In a city that never sleeps everyone needs a place to pray'

'In a city that never sleeps everyone needs a place to pray'

Directly opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral is the north east corner of the Rockefeller Centre with its brass Atlas Statue outside; a large 22 acre retail, entertainment and office complex built during the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the heart of the complex is the 70 floor 872 foot (266 metre) high GE Building whose observation deck is the popular tourist attraction known as the "Top of the Rock" with stunning 360 degree views of the New York Skyscraper skyline. We however were saving that experience for ourselves for the Empire State Building.

The Rockefeller Center and Atlas Statue

The Rockefeller Center and Atlas Statue

Continuing walking north (we did a lot of walking in New York, I think I've still got the bruises!) we passed the Trump Tower (a 58 story skyscraper developed by Donald Trump) and next door to it the flagship Tiffany's Jewelry Store of 1961 film "Breakfast in Tiffany's" fame; not that you can have breakfast there, even if we managed to get past the tight security Tiffany's hasn't got a restaurant!

The clock outside the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue

The clock outside the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue


Tiffany's, the famous expensive jewelry store on 5th Avenue

Tiffany's, the famous expensive jewelry store on 5th Avenue

By now we were in need of some refreshment and with an Irish Bar on the corner of nearly every block in New York it was pretty obvious where we were going to stop for lunch... washed down with our first pint of the day of the black stuff :)

A pint of Guinness in an Irish Bar across the road from the Carnegie Hall

A pint of Guinness in an Irish Bar across the road from the Carnegie Hall

Suitably fed and watered our next stop was Columbus Circle at the south west corner of Central Park with its monument constructed in 1892 on the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Americas. Opposite at the entrance to the park itself is an impressive monument to the sailors who died aboard the USS Maine when it blew up in Havana Harbour Cuba prompting the outbreak of the 1898 Spanish American War.

The Colombus Memorial at the center of Columbus Circle outside Central Park

The Colombus Memorial at the center of Columbus Circle outside Central Park


USS Maine National Monument at the Colombus Circle entrance to Central Park

USS Maine National Monument at the Colombus Circle entrance to Central Park

Close to Columbus Circle is the Lincoln Center, the largest performing arts complex in the world. I have to admit I was quite keen to see the Lincoln Center, just in case we found the New York School for the Performing Arts nearby on which the 1980s TV Show "Fame" popular in the UK was based. We unsuccessfully went looking for the location of its famous street dance scene and I've since found out we were indeed at the right location for the interior scenes but the building has long since been demolished and all the external scenes were actually filmed about a mile away on West 46th Street.

Lincoln Center - the world's largest performing arts centre

Lincoln Center - the world's largest performing arts centre


Firemen's Memorial outside the Lincoln Center FDNY Building (home of Engine 40 and Ladder 35)

Firemen's Memorial outside the Lincoln Center FDNY Building (home of Engine 40 and Ladder 35)

Before we entered Central Park itself we passed the Dakota Apartment Building where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived before he was murdered outside its south entrance in 1980. Across the road in Central Park the adjacent 2.5 acres has been dedicated to his memory with a mosaic as its centrepiece and renamed Strawberry Fields after the famous Beatles song "Strawberry Fields are forever".

The Dakota Apartment Building on the west side of Central Park where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived

The Dakota Apartment Building on the west side of Central Park where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived


The south entrance to the Dakota Apartment Building where John Lennon was shot

The south entrance to the Dakota Apartment Building where John Lennon was shot


The Strawberry Fields entrance into New York's Central Park

The Strawberry Fields entrance into New York's Central Park


The John Lennon Mosaic in Strawberry Fields, Central Park

The John Lennon Mosaic in Strawberry Fields, Central Park

Central Park itself is 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) long by 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometres) wide, a rectangular haven of greenery surrounded on all sides by skyscrapers. It's full of cliché's such as the horse drawn carriages taking tourists on sedate tours around the park and the street dancing on The Mall. There was even a young couple having wedding photographs taken on the Lower Bethesda Terrace in the heart of the park.

Horse drawn carriage making its way along the Terrace Drive in Central Park

Horse drawn carriage making its way along the Terrace Drive in Central Park


Street dancing underway on the Mall in Central Park

Street dancing underway on the Mall in Central Park


The Bethesda Terrace Tunnel in Central Park (with a Chinese looking couple having wedding photographs taken - a recurring theme particularly in the USA and Australia)

The Bethesda Terrace Tunnel in Central Park (with a Chinese looking couple having wedding photographs taken - a recurring theme particularly in the USA and Australia)

Central Park contains 2 ice skating rinks, 36 bridges and several artificially created but natural looking lakes. The Angel of the Waters Fountain is the centrepiece of the Lower Bethesda Terrace where it reaches the Lake which is very popular spot for boating with a fleet of 100 boats available for rent.

The Angel of the Waters Fountain on the Lower Bethesda Terrace in Central Park

The Angel of the Waters Fountain on the Lower Bethesda Terrace in Central Park


Boating underway on the Lake in Central Park

Boating underway on the Lake in Central Park


Boats going under a bridge across the Lake in Central Park

Boats going under a bridge across the Lake in Central Park

Most of the activity in Central Park is at its southern end and it gets quieter and less landscaped as you move north. About a third of the way up shortly after crossing the 79th Street Transverse is Belvedere Castle, a Victorian folly built in 1869 on top of Vista Rock, the park's second-highest natural elevation. The surrounding skyscrapers can been seen rising above the trees from almost anywhere in the park but the quintessential view of New York's Skyline from Central Park has to be from the top of the Great Lawn looking south.

Belvedere Castle in the middle of Central Park

Belvedere Castle in the middle of Central Park


Looking south across the Great Lawn - the quintessential view of the New York Skyline from Central Park

Looking south across the Great Lawn - the quintessential view of the New York Skyline from Central Park

It was now time to escape Central Park and make our way to the Upper East Side where we had an invite to see the construction of the new $4.45billion Second Avenue Subway (which I'll cover separately in my next entry). Exiting the park we passed the entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Museum Mile of Fifth Avenue. It's the largest art museum in the USA and the most popular single-site tourist attraction in New York with over 5 million visitors per year but apart from a cursory glance at the Egyptian statues in the lobby we didn't stop.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Inside the lobby of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Inside the lobby of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We did stop however for another pint of Guinness, it would be criminal to ignore all the Irish Bars on every corner in New York! This one had the television on showing the England v Ireland soccer friendly live from Wembley Stadium in London. Being English born of Irish parents my team always wins when they play each other, regardless of which team it is! Although we couldn't stay to watch the final result was a 1-1 draw.

Time for a 2nd pint of Guinness (with the England v Ireland friendly on the TV live from London)

Time for a 2nd pint of Guinness (with the England v Ireland friendly on the TV live from London)


A side street of pull down metal fire escapes - very American

A side street of pull down metal fire escapes - very American

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged lakes churches buildings trains museums beer new_york sport city war_memorials us_east_coast film_locations external_links Comments (0)

Philadelphia Phillies Baseball - keeping my 100% win record

Watching baseball and eating cheesesteaks with the Phillie Phanatics

sunny 31 °C
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Having spent the morning sightseeing, we boarded the Philadelphia Subway to get back to our car and drive on to the Citizen Park Baseball Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, to watch their game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The fare system on the Philadelphia Subway was the most old fashioned I had seen on my travels; we needed coin tokens (costing $2 each and purchased from kiosks) to get through the platform turnstiles at the start of each journey. At the Delaware River the subway climbed out of its tunnel and crossed the river on tracks running along the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge from where we got a terrific view of the WWII USS New Jersey Battleship moored along the Camden Waterfront on the opposite side of the river.

A train on the Philadelphia Subway

A train on the Philadelphia Subway


The subway comes out into daylight and climbs onto the Ben Franklin Bridge to cross the Delaware River

The subway comes out into daylight and climbs onto the Ben Franklin Bridge to cross the Delaware River


The USS New Jersey Battleship from a subway train crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge

The USS New Jersey Battleship from a subway train crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge

After we parked the streets were remarkably quiet as no traffic is allowed on the roads immediately north of the stadium. As we walked we passed rows of parked vehicles with people sat on folding chairs sharing beers and barbeques at pre-game tailgate parties; although something of an American institution tailgating wasn't something I had encountered previously at the baseball games I had seen in Los Angeles and Denver.

Tailgate parties on the way to the Baseball Stadium

Tailgate parties on the way to the Baseball Stadium


Citizen Bank Park - home of the Philadelphia Phillies - with an advertising plane flying overhead

Citizen Bank Park - home of the Philadelphia Phillies - with an advertising plane flying overhead

As with all major baseball grounds Citizen Park Baseball Stadium had several statutes of Philadelphia Phillies baseball stars from the past. The first we saw was of pitcher Steve Carlton just outside the Left Field Gate entrance. However the one that matters most to the local fans is of Richie Ashburn on Ashburn Alley, a raised walkway behind the center field. Richie Ashburn played for the Phillies 1948-1959 and then was broadcaster for them until his death in 1997.

For me however Ashburn Alley will always be remembered as the place where I finally tried the much hyped local delicacy known as a Philadelphia Cheesesteak, a sandwich made from thinly-sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese in a long roll. I enjoyed my cheesesteak, it reminded me of good kebab from a takeaway back home.

Steve Carlton's statue outside the Left Field Gate Entrance... with Phillie Phanatic making his first appearance on the screen behind him!

Steve Carlton's statue outside the Left Field Gate Entrance... with Phillie Phanatic making his first appearance on the screen behind him!


Richie Ashburn's statue on Ashburn Alley

Richie Ashburn's statue on Ashburn Alley


Looking across the baseball field from Ashburn Alley

Looking across the baseball field from Ashburn Alley


Mike Schmidt's statue outside the Third Base Gate Entrance

Mike Schmidt's statue outside the Third Base Gate Entrance

The Philadelphia Phillies have a large, furry, green mascot called Phillie Phanatic who seems to get everywhere; we'd already seen on the large screen above the entrance on the way in. His job seems to be race around the stadium on an all-terrain vehicle taunting the opposition as much as possible and playing pranks on them! Phillie Phanatic certainly seems to be the most active of the baseball mascots I have seen.

Phillie Phanatic, the club mascot, racing around the field while the players warm up

Phillie Phanatic, the club mascot, racing around the field while the players warm up


Phillie Phanatic has a go at being catcher

Phillie Phanatic has a go at being catcher

The game got underway and the Philadelphia Phillies soon took a 5 run lead in their 1st innings including a 3 run homer which prompted the 'ringing' (i.e. illuminating and swinging) of the 52 feet (16 metre) high replica of the Liberty Bell that stands 102 feet (31 metres) above street level beyond the right outfield.

A batter for the Phillies prepares to hit the ball

A batter for the Phillies prepares to hit the ball

The sea of red shirted Phillies fans celebrate a 'triple' (batter reaching 3rd base)

The sea of red shirted Phillies fans celebrate a 'triple' (batter reaching 3rd base)


The Stadium Liberty Bell that 'rings' after every Phillies home run or win

The Stadium Liberty Bell that 'rings' after every Phillies home run or win

Action shot as the Brewers pitch at the Phillies

Action shot as the Brewers pitch at the Phillies

By the end of the 2nd innings Philadelphia were 7-0 ahead which remained the score until the 8th and 9th innings when Milwaukee managed to score 5 runs. It wasn't enough and Philadelphia eventually won 7-5, maintaining my 100% record of watching my cousins' baseball teams win; perhaps I am a lucky charm?

Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies

Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies


More beer arrives for thirsty fans watching the game

More beer arrives for thirsty fans watching the game


Raking the infield after the 6th innings

Raking the infield after the 6th innings


Phillie Phanatic tries to 'hex' the opposing pitcher as John Mayberry prepares to hit the ball for Philadelphia

Phillie Phanatic tries to 'hex' the opposing pitcher as John Mayberry prepares to hit the ball for Philadelphia

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in USA Tagged trains food sport philadelphia videos us_east_coast external_links Comments (0)

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